posted on Feb, 23 2011 @ 03:15 PM
In a hopes to stop the confusion over the use of the term Planet X and the fearmongering th\at goes along with it I have decided to give a brief
history of the astronomical use of the term before it was co-opted by the likes of Nancy Lieder and other New Agers to mean a planet of doom. I will
state clearly right now that the term Planet X does not refer to a planet that will kill us all. This is a meaning that was picked up by misguided
followers of Sitchin after the term had gone out of fashion in the astronomical community. Therefore, any new hypothetical planets in the solar system
should not be thought of as Nibiru/Wormwood/etc. even if a MSM article makes reference to Planet X. The official use refers to a completely different
celestial body than the New Age use of the term.
Our story begins on the night of September 23 1846. Johann Galle, a German astronomer, has just received a letter from French mathematician Urbain Le
Verrier. Le Verrier had been interested in the perturbations of Uranus' orbit and using Newtonian mechanics made a prediction for the location of a
new planet. Using Le Verrier's prediction, Galle discovered Neptune, right where Le Verrier said it would be. However, this did not entirely solve
the problem with the orbits of the gas giants. Therefore, it was hypothesized that another planet must exist beyond Neptune.
In 1848 Jacques Babinet believed he had found a problem in Le Verrier's original calculations. From observation of Neptune, he stated that Le Verrier
had overestimated the mass of the new planet and that it's orbit was actually larger than predicted. Based on this he concluded that a planet 12
times the mass of Earth must exist beyond Neptune. He named this hypothesized planet Hyperion. (See astronomers do have a tendency to name planets
before their discovery.) For the rest of the century the search was on for anywhere between one to three trans-Neptunian planets. Proposed names
include Oceanus, Brahma, and Vishnu.
While the search was proceeding in vain, a wealthy man from Boston named Percvial Lowell, with the help of established astronomer William Pickering,
founded Lowell Observatory in Arizona. In 1906 Lowell believed that he had the equipment necessary to find this mystery planet beyond Neptune, which
he named Planet X. It is worth noting here that at this time since there were only eight planets in the solar system, X did not stand for the Roman
numeral, which is a common misconception. Lowell's first search, which included 200 three-hour exposures turned up nothing, as did his second search
in 1915. Despite lack of success, Lowell hypothesized in his memoirs that Planet X was seven times the mass of the Earth, have a mean distance from
the sun of 43 AU, and that it would be similar to the gas giants.
At the same time Lowell was performing his search William Pickering was also looking for a trans-Neptunian planet. He named his planet, Planet O. Once
again though nothing was found and even Lowell criticized Pickering for his hypothesized planet. Until 1932 Pickering would go on the hypothesize
Planets P thru U.
Following the death of Percival Lowell in 1916 Lowell Observatory was caught up in a number of legal battles bringing the search for Planet X to a
halt. In 1925 the observatory obtained a new telescope and the search resumed in full in 1929 when Clyde Tombaugh, a farm boy from Kansas, was brought
on to resume Lowell's search. In 1930 after working at the observatory Tombaugh made a startling discovery. In a comparison of two images he had
taken a few days apart there was apparent motion in an object. A third image confirmed the movement. A new planet had been discovered, Pluto.
Amazingly, one of Lowell's predictions for the location of Planet X was only six degrees off from this. Even more amazing Pickering had actually
imaged Pluto during his search for Planet O.
The celebration was short lived. Further observation of Pluto indicated that it was much different than what Lowell had predicted. In a telescope, it
appeared no different than a star. This meant that it was either very small or very dim. As the 20th century moved on it became more and more apparent
that Pluto was in fact very small, with the final nails in the coffin first coming with the discovery that Pluto contained methane ice, meaning it was
very bright, and then the discovery of its moon Charon. Therefore, Pluto could not be Lowell's Planet X as it did not have the mass to affect the
orbits of the gas giants.
While the search continued following this, most of the hypotheses were met with criticism and failure. Slighthope for its discovery emerged in 1983
when the IRAS observatory declared it had found a number of unknown objects, one of which might be a Jupiter sized planet that might be part of the
solar system. This was quickly shown not to be the case however when it was concluded that IRAS had detected nine distant galaxies and an infrared
cirrus. The search for Lowell's Planet X finally came to an end in 1989 with Voyager 2's flyby Neptune. It was concluded that Neptune's mass had
been overestimated. Using this new mass the JPL concluded that there were no longer any discrepancies in Uranus' orbit, thus there was no longer a
need for Planet X.
This has not stopped others from co-opting the name Planet X however. In 1995, Nancy Lieder, a supposed contactee of the Zetas, started her website
ZetaTalk. She originally predicted that Comet Hale-Bopp's approach in 1997 was a lie. She claimed that it was not actually approaching and that this
was just a cover to keep people distracted from the approaching Planet X. When Hale-Bopp turned out to be one of the brightest and longest observed
comets of the 20th century Lieder edited her website to make it appear as if she never said Hale-Bopp didn't exist. Following this Lieder predicted
that Planet X would actually approach in 2003. The week before the predicted event, Lieder went on the radio and told listeners to kill their pets and
that she had already done so, as well as alluding to having eaten her dogs. When this date passed Lieder claimed it was a lie to fool the
establishment. Lieder currently claims that Planet X will return in 2012.
So, looking at the history of the phrase Planet X one can see that it has a long history of being used to refer to a trans-Neptunian object that has
an affect on the orbits of the gas giants. It is not until recent years, after the astronomical community has for all intents and purposes abandoned
the term, that people have begun associating the term with doom and gloom. So, if you see the term Planet X end up in print do not immediately think
of Nancy Lieder's delusions, but instead the legacy of Percival Lowell. During his life all Lowell wanted was scientific recognition, and because of
his belief in Planet X we now have a much better understanding of our own solar system thanks to him and the people he inspired.